Clearwater Pest Control – Don’t let the bedbugs bite!

We would like to thank Attorney Walt Blenner for being our guest blogger this week at Coby’s Tentless Termite & Pest Control. To contact Attorney Walt Blenner please visit his website at: http://www.blennerlawgroup.com

Despite their tiny size, bed bugs have become an enormous problem and health risk in both rental units and hotel/motel rooms in recent years.

First, a little bit about bed bugs:

  • They can survive for 1 year without eating. Think about that next time you store your luggage in the closet after the last trip;
  • They’re hitchhikers. Many unsuspecting people import bed bugs on their clothes or luggage to their next destination;
  • They’re nocturnal and they love heat. So, when you crawl into those sheets, all warm and snuggly, your body heat, along with the time of day, are working to wake up these little buggers to get to work – munching on you;
  • A tell-tale sign of a room infested with many bed bugs is, believe it or not, a “sweet aroma”. Some say it smells like raspberries, others say it smells of a “stale granola bar”.

Now, bed bug bites are a real nuisance but nobody’s died from these bites according to my research. The range of symptoms from a bite is from a red slightly swollen welt that itches to intense burning. This can be multiplied by the dozens with many bites and the discomfort increases as well. It largely depends on the sensitivity of the individual.

There are exceptions in the extreme – in 2007 a wealthy couple sued a posh London hotel after suffering hundreds and hundreds of bites. While they physically recovered, they alleged severe psychological trauma claiming they would wake up in the middle of the night feeling like they were crawling with bugs. They also developed a fear of travel and hotel stays. The internet is silent on the outcome of the suit which tells me there was probably a nice settlement with a confidentiality clause to keep them from yapping about their windfall.

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So over the years hotels have been put on notice that failure to inspect and treat for pests such as bed bugs can result in a claim for negligence and expose them to liability and lawsuits. There aren’t a lot of commercial insurance policies that cover hotel/motels for bed bug liability.  Most likely any settlement will be coming from the hotel owner themselves. You’d think this would be enough incentive to protect customers from bed bug bites, but some innkeepers are just willing to roll the dice that the unwary consumer will not pursue a claim further. Don’t make this mistake.

How do you know if those bumps on your body in the morning are from bed bugs? Other than the rancid sweet smell, there are other ways to do your own detective work:

  • First, pull off the top sheet and inspect the bottom sheet. If you see red splotches this is either the unfortunate bug you rolled over onto during the night, or it could represent what they excreted after having a drink at your expense. Gross, I know;
  • Lift the mattress. Look behind the headboard. Look in folds of linens and comforters. Bed bugs have shells called “cuticles”. When they shed their exoskeletons, they eventually find their way into crevices and under mattresses. They may even stick to the headboard after shedding; and,
  • If you went to bed last night with nary a bump and you wake up 8 hours later red and swollen, that’s really the best evidence of an event which took place in your bed that you didn’t initiate.

If your skin is crawling at this point, I get it. These little guys which look like a lady bug’s uglier cousin become absolutely grotesque when magnified. And nobody likes the thought of being a bug’s blood host.

I’ve made it a habit to check the bedding area of my hotel room to determine if there is any evidence of bed bugs before I get tired and ready to turn in. Be proactive. And, as discussed, this doesn’t only happen in The Flop House Inn. It can happen anywhere. Better hotels inspect, hire a pest control company and inspect again. Bed bugs are preventable.

However, if you wake up from a long night’s sleep looking like a gigantic welt, and there is abounding evidence of bed bugs around and you want to preserve your rights to make a claim against the hotel or even file a lawsuit, here are some steps to consider:

  • Contact the local public health department – some cities even have a special department that deals with hospitality bed bug issues;
  • Take many photographs of the room, the bed and the infestation;
  • Notify the front desk of your extreme displeasure, and ask the hotel if they knew of the existence of bed bugs in this room. Many do, and only rent those infected rooms when all others are already occupied;
  • Document your injury by taking photos of your body since the welts will reduce in size and appearance fairly quickly. Save the sensitive photos of body parts unless absolutely needed in court, and provide the hotel photos of your more obvious bites;
  • Get medical attention to further document your injury;
  • The more egregious the evidence of actual knowledge of a bed bug infestation, the stronger the claim will be. So document everything before you checkout of the hotel – it’s called “preserving the evidence” in the law. While you can make your own claim, to maximize settlement potential you may want to consult with an attorney.

The best way to prevent bed bug injuries is to be your own best advocate: Inspect your room, report bug activity to create actual notice to the front desk, and always ask for another room. If they cannot, get your money back and head to a competing hotel, if possible. You’ll thank yourself for it later.

If you have questions about bedbugs…or any other pest…call Coby’s Tentless Termite and Pest Control at 727-352-6762 and ask for me, Coby McConnell. I’ll be happy to speak with you anytime.

Here’s to helping YOU live BUG FREE!

Coby

PS. And remember…as long as God keeps makin’em, we’ll keep killin’em!